Membership warehouse Sam’s Club, owned by Walmart Inc., made a chain-wide improvement, rolling out “Inventory Scan” towers that will allow its existing fleet of robotic scrubbers to improve inventory visibility through artificial intelligence.
Launched in partnership with Brain Corp., an AI company focused on robotics, the initiative retrofitted nearly 600 scrubbers with artificial intelligence capabilities. The cloud-connected towers autonomously capture data around stores, analyzing product localization, planogram compliance, product stock levels, and pricing accuracy.
The effort will help the company slash time-consuming, manual tasks that have been potentially inaccurate in measuring product availability, member experience, or ordering.
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According to Todd Garner, vice president, in-club product management at Sam’s Club, the company’s initial goal for the project, which launched in late January 2022, was to convert time historically spent on scrubbers to more member-focused activities.
“Our autonomous scrubbers have exceeded this goal. In addition to increasing the consistency and frequency of floor cleaning, intelligent scrubbers have empowered associates with critical insights," he said in a statement. "At Sam’s Club, we have a member-obsessed culture. These scrubbers help associates ensure products are out for sale, priced correctly, and findable, ultimately making it easier to directly engage with our members."
David Pinn, CEO at Brain Corp. said that through the use of these inventory scanning towers, Sam’s Clubs will be able to access “a trove of critical inventory data in real time, which they can use to better inform decision making, run their clubs more efficiently, and provide a better in-club experience for their members."
Parent company Walmart has also made strides in the field of automation, as it looks to transform its supply chain to rely less on manual tasks and focus on smarter processes. The company recently stated it would be launching a high-tech consolidation center in Lebanon, Pennsylvania that will leverage automation to improve product flow.
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“We’ve made continued investments in our people, facilities and technology to ensure we have the right product, in the right place, at the right time,” said Mike Gray, senior vice president, supply chain operations at Walmart at the time of the announcement.
These efforts are in addition to plans to build four new fulfillment centers over the next three years that will be a "first of their kind" for Walmart, tapping people, robotics, and machine learning. Walmart also has plans to renovate all 42 of its regional distribution centers with automated tech.
“Walmart is creating the future of supply chain — a modern system that pairs the latest in software and automation technologies, with a highly trained and specialized workforce of Walmart associates — to disrupt the industry as we know it,” said David Guggina, senior vice president of innovation and automation, Walmart U.S.
Robotic solutions are transforming the grocery experience across the entire business cycle. Take, for example, Albertsons, which is tapping AI and robotics to unlock the power of frictionless checkout, maintain unhindered customer flow, and grow revenue.